Eighteen former NBA players have been charged with defrauding the league's health and welfare benefit plan out of about $US4 million ($A5.5 million), according to an indictment in New York.
Federal prosecutors planned a news conference to describe the case that was brought in Manhattan federal court. By late morning on Thursday, 16 of the defendants were in custody, authorities said.
According to the indictment, the ex-players engaged in a widespread scheme to defraud the plan by submitting false and fraudulent claims to get reimbursed for medical and dental expenses that were never actually incurred.
The 18 players were among 19 individuals charged in the indictment. It said that the scheme was carried out from at least 2017 to 2020, when the plan received false claims totaling about $US3.9 million ($A5.4 million).
Of that, the defendants received about $US2.5 million ($A3.4 million) in fraudulent proceeds.
Among those charged was Anthony Allen, a six-time All-Defensive team selection and a member of the 2008 champion Boston Celtics. His wife was also indicted.
For the most part, though, the ex-players charged had journeyman careers playing for several different teams and never reached anywhere close to the enormous stardom or salary that top players command.
Another former player charged in the scheme was Sebastian Telfair, a one-time high school star in New York who was highly touted when he turned pro, though his NBA career with eight franchises never brought the stardom some had expected.
Those charged included four NBA champions. Ronald Glen Davis, along with Allen, was part of that 2008 title team in Boston. Shannon Brown won two championships with the Los Angeles Lakers, and Melvin Ely won a title with San Antonio in 2007.
Among others who were charged, Anthony Wroten, Ruben Patterson and Darius Miles were the only players who averaged double figures for their NBA career.